The Russ Belville Show

The Associated Press is reporting the suspension of US Olympic wrestler Stephany Lee, who tested positive a second time for marijuana metabolites:

(ESPN) DES MOINES, Iowa — U.S. wrestler Stephany Lee has been suspended for a year and will give up her spot on the Olympic team after testing positive for marijuana.

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency announced on Thursday that the 27-year-old Lee tested positive for tetrahydrocannabinol acid, a marijuana metabolite, at the Olympic Team Trials in Iowa City on April 21.

Lee, who also tested positive for marijuana in 2009, has accepted the sanctions and must forfeit any medals, points or prizes dating back to her positive test.

“I apologize to USA Wrestling, my teammates, my coaches and everyone who supported me for my mistake. I will continue to train, and hope to be able to represent my country at the 2016 Olympic Games,” said Lee in a statement released through USA Wrestling.

The mistake Lee is referring to is getting caught using a relaxing and rehabilitating herbal substance.  Certainly the use itself was no mistake, for Lee was caught in 2009 after winning the national title and again in 2012 after upsetting Ali Bernard two matches in a row.  Bernard, who will replace Lee at the Olympics in London, placed third at the 2011 World Championships, qualifying the US for the Olympics at this 72kg weight class.

So clearly, using marijuana isn’t impeding Lee’s ability to beat any other American woman in her weight class.  Instead of herbal cannabis, she should have chosen to relax with one of the fine products by Team USA Olympic Sponsors, like an ice-cold Coca-Cola or Budweiser.

The Olympic examples of Stephany Lee, Ross Rebagliati, and of course, Michael Phelps, should prove to the worldwide athletic community that keeping marijuana on the banned substances list does nothing but deprive us of truly determining who are the world’s greatest athletes.  Whomever wins the gold at 72kg will never know if she’s really the best as Stephany Lee sits out the London Games.

Another disappointment is Lee’s suspension robs the LGBT community of one of the less-than-a-dozen openly gay Olympic athletes of the 12,000 expected to compete.  It is bittersweet that Lee and her longtime partner are finally able to wed by traveling to Iowa, one of six US states that recognize equal marriage rights for all citizens, where Lee defeated Bernard to win her spot on the Olympic team, only to lose her Olympic dreams to positive marijuana metabolite test.

Now there must be some reading this who will complain about pointing the finger at prohibition to blame and not the young lady who smoked pot.  She broke the rules, she knew what they were, she made a choice, nobody forced her to smoke pot.  That’s probably true, though we don’t know why Lee uses cannabis, which could be for treatment of the pain and inflammation that goes with training for the Olympics.

But that’s also part of my point – Lee would be booking tickets to Heathrow if she’d celebrated her wedding / winning with Team USA Sponsor’s Budweiser products, which are actually harmful to her health and her athletic prowess, unlike cannabis.  Why do we promote rules that incentivize unhealthy behavior by athletes?

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